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play stupid games

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Iwaizumi jolts awake at the crack of dawn, riding on the coattails of a nightmare that’s already fading from his memory, and he can’t go back to sleep. Instead he stares up at the ceiling, blankly tracing over the white bumps and ridges. There’s a silky spiderweb in the corner, visible only when the light catches on it at a certain angle.

He closes his eyes, exhales, and wills himself to drag his body up and out of bed to no avail. He doesn’t want to go to school today. Not going to school means never having to know what shit they’re making up about him now, not having to deal with the sidelong glances that make him want to brain himself on a desk. No school means no detention.

But he can practically see his mom’s disapproving frown in his mind’s eye, telling him to face the consequences of his actions, and he resolves to get it over with. Groaning, he stretches an arm out toward his desk and turns off his alarm clock. He won’t be needing it today. It’s about thirty minutes earlier than when he usually wakes up, but he knows he won’t be able to doze off again no matter how hard he tries.

And that’s when he hears it: a small clack. Then another one, the sound of a solid object clattering against plastic. He stills, straining for its source. A few seconds later, it comes again, louder this time.

Careful to stay quiet so as to pick up on any further disturbances, Iwaizumi shucks his blankets and sits up, swinging his legs off the edge of the bed. Then he stands and makes his way to the middle of the room, where he pauses to listen again.

Clack. On instinct, his head swivels in the direction of the window, where it’s coming from. He frowns. Did he not close it properly? With slow, measured steps, he walks toward it and peers down…

...Only to find one Oikawa Tooru standing in his garden, with a shit-eating grin on his face and a handful of pebbles. His eyes light up once he catches sight of Iwaizumi peering down at him, and he has the audacity to wave.

Iwaizumi groans, drags a hand down his face, and eases the window open anyway.

“Finally!” Oikawa shouts at him before he gets the chance to say anything. “I’ve been doing this for the past five minutes, Iwa-chan!”

“You’re insane, and I’m not enabling this,” Iwaizumi deadpans. He goes to shut the window again, but Oikawa stops him short with an outraged yell.

“Rude, Iwa-chan! I woke up early and came all this way to surprise you, and you won’t even let me in?” He flails his arms in furious gestures as he speaks, and Iwaizumi winces when a couple of pebbles fly out of his closed fist and hit the slats on the side of his house.

“This isn’t Romeo and Juliet,” Iwaizumi retorts. “Ring the doorbell like a normal person.”

Iwaizumi can make out the pout that forms on Oikawa’s lips far too well considering he’s standing over ten feet away from the other man. Vertically. “I didn’t want to wake your parents,” Oikawa admits.

Huh, Iwaizumi thinks. That’s unexpectedly considerate of him. He lets out a long-suffering sigh, and Oikawa must recognize it for the surrender it is, because he grins. “Go around to the front door,” Iwaizumi tells him. “I’ll unlock it for you.”

“Are you sure I can’t climb up?” Oikawa points at a tree outside Iwaizumi’s room. “That branch doesn’t look too far away.”

“I’m sure,” Iwaizumi says, suppressing an exasperated eyeroll. “See you in two seconds.”

“Fine, fine,” Oikawa says. He drops the few rocks he’s still holding and wipes his palm on his jeans. He’s not in his school uniform yet, Iwaizumi notes, having opted for a cream sweater and a pair of jeans instead. “I’m going!”

Iwaizumi watches him walk backwards until he turns a corner and disappears. Then, faster than he’d like to admit, he rushes downstairs. Oikawa is already waiting when he manages to wrench the door open. “This is your house?” he asks, poking his head inside before Iwaizumi can open his mouth to invite him in. “It’s nice.”

“The layout’s probably just like yours,” Iwaizumi grumbles. He waits while Oikawa shucks his shoes and then hesitates before grabbing Oikawa’s wrist—because that’s something he can do now, he thinks with a warm shiver—and leading him back to his room.

“Iwa-chan’s taking me to his bedroom already?” Oikawa asks. He fakes a scandalized gasp. “How forward! You know I don’t put out until the third date at least.”

Iwaizumi drops Oikawa’s hand like it burned him. “This was a mistake,” he says.

“Wait, wait!” Oikawa protests. “I didn’t mean it, Iwa-chan, you can hold my hand if you want.”

“No need, we’re here already,” Iwaizumi says. They’ve made it up the top of the stairs and are standing beside his door. He pushes it open, and Oikawa gives his room a cursory sweep before making a beeline for the bed.

“What the hell are you doing?” Iwaizumi asks. He watches as Oikawa throws himself on the bed, bouncing two, three times before lying down with his hands tucked behind his head.

“This is nice,” Oikawa says. “I have a futon in my room.”

“Doesn’t mean you have to barge into mine and hog my bed,” Iwaizumi says. He crosses the room as well and shoves at Oikawa’s feet. “Move, I don’t have any space.”

Oikawa moves his legs over, and Iwaizumi sits. He gives himself five seconds to stare unabashedly at the faint shadows Oikawa’s eyelashes cast on his cheeks. Then he shakes himself and says, “Why are you here, anyway?”

“Hmph. Can’t a man visit his potential future boyfriend in peace without being interrogated for it?”

Despite himself, Iwaizumi’s lips quirk into a small grin. “‘Potential future boyfriend?’ Is that what this is?”

“You’re on probation, Iwaizumi,” Oikawa teases. He sits up, folding his long legs underneath his body. “If you really want to date me, you’re going to have to prove you mean it.”

The grin widens. “All right, Shittykawa, and how exactly do I do that?”

“Stop calling me ‘Shittykawa,’ for one.”

“You drive a hard bargain,” Iwaizumi says. Then he sobers, realizing that Oikawa had dodged the question. “Is that all? You decided to swing by for no reason?”

A small sigh escapes Oikawa’s lips, and a crease appears on his forehead as he picks at a loose thread on his sleeve. “Couldn’t sleep,” he says. “And actually, I’ve been wondering something. About you."

“What’s that?” Iwaizumi asks.

“Well, how did this start for you?” Oikawa asks. He looks up at Iwaizumi from under long, dark lashes, and Iwaizumi’s heart skips a beat. “I mean, you used to hate me. When did that change?”

How does Iwaizumi answer him without coming clean about all the mistakes he’s made? He takes the coward’s way out, decides to stick to an ungainly half-truth. “Remember when we met?” he asks. His hands start to grow clammy, and he wipes them on his blanket.

Oikawa nods. “In that lab in our first year. I never did apologize for spilling all over you, did I?”

“For spilling hydrochloric acid on me,” Iwaizumi says, a scowl gracing his features at the memory.

“Oh, right.” Oikawa laughs. “Well, Suzue-chan thought it was funny.”

“Right.” Iwaizumi rolls his eyes. “That day I thought you were the most self-absorbed, reckless asshole I’d ever met, and then I guess I spent the next three years looking for ways to prove myself right.” He reaches over and smooths a hand over Oikawa’s hair to soften the blow. Oikawa’s eyes flutter closed, and he leans into the touch.

“Mean,” Oikawa says. He sounds content, though.

“Yeah,” Iwaizumi says. “And then when you confessed to me, I was shocked, and I reacted badly—”

“That’s an understatement,” Oikawa grumbles. Iwaizumi flicks him in the middle of the forehead.

“Hush, I know. I felt awful afterward, even though I kept trying to tell myself you deserved it. Then, I guess… I guess I started paying more attention to you, and I realized you were more than the person I thought you were, and I wanted to give you another chance.”

“Hmm.” Oikawa opens his eyes again, scrunching his eyebrows together. “That’s all?”

Iwaizumi swallows the cold lump in his throat. “That’s all,” he lies.

Oikawa studies him closely for a quiet moment, and Iwaizumi tries not to shrink under his gaze. Luckily, Oikawa seems to take his words at face value, and his frown smooths out into a smile. “That’s anticlimactic, Iwa-chan. But what can one expect from a boring old man like yourself, right?”

“Dick,” Iwaizumi says, without heat. “What about you?"

“What about me, what?” Oikawa asks.

Iwaizumi returns to playing with Oikawa’s hair, twining his hands in the soft curls and letting them slip through his fingers. “How did it start for you?” Then Iwaizumi pauses and adds, “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

“Nah, it’s only fair.” Oikawa chews on his bottom lip as he tries to figure out how to put it. “You know you’re the first person I’d ever met who disliked me so blatantly?”

“Sorry,” Iwaizumi apologizes again, on instinct. “What does that have to do with it?”

Oikawa continues like he didn’t hear the question. “Usually people who don’t like me play nice to my face and talk about me behind my back. You didn’t bother to do that. And you should’ve seen the look you got on your face whenever I was doing something stupid next to you.”

Iwaizumi’s hand stills, the familiar guilt settling over him again, but Oikawa nudges it with his head until he keeps going. Then he relaxes into the touch with a happy sigh. “At first, I was like, what the hell is his problem, you know? Like—fuck you, I don’t care if you don’t like me, I don’t like you either. But that stopped working.”

“Oh, my god. Don’t tell me I accidentally… reverse psychology-d you into having feelings for me, or something.”

“I couldn’t help it!” Oikawa protests. “You know I’m a contrarian at heart, Iwa-chan. One day I woke up and instead of being annoyed by your existence, I wanted to know what it was about me that turned you off so bad. Then I kept noticing you, and I found out you were a nice guy to everyone except me, and that just made me even more curious. And I didn’t really believe you’d ever feel the same way. I definitely never thought you’d punch someone over me.”

Iwaizumi groans. “Will you ever stop bringing that up?”

“Never, Iwa-chan.” Oikawa lets out a small giggle. He stretches his legs out and then crosses them, letting their knees bump together, and Iwaizumi’s hand drops from his head at the movement. “You know me better than that.”

“Unfortunately,” Iwaizumi says. He happens to glance at the clock on his bedside table, which makes him curse out loud and hop to his feet. “Fuck, how is it so late already?” He pulls his pajama shirt over his head and holds it bunched up in one hand while he takes his school uniform off of the hangers in his closet. Too late, he remembers Oikawa’s presence, and he turns to find the other boy watching him with his head cradled in his hands.

“Don’t mind me,” Oikawa says.

Iwaizumi crosses his arms in front of himself. “Don’t you need to go back to your house and change, too?”

Oikawa pouts. “Do I have to?”

“I’ll see you in class, Oikawa.”

“Fine,” Oikawa says. He takes his time getting to his feet, stretching, and walking to the door. With one hand on the doorknob, he turns to look back at Iwaizumi. “Detention is in Takeda-sensei’s room today, right?”

Iwaizumi blinks at him. “Uh, I think so. Why?”

“No reason. See you, Iwa-chan!” Oikawa offers him a little wave before slipping out of his room with a liquid grace.

With no further distractions, Iwaizumi returns to the task of dressing himself and getting ready for the day ahead. In the middle of it, he realizes that his mom is most likely awake by now, and that Oikawa probably passed her downstairs on his way out. He considers how suspicious that must look to her and reddens.

Oh, well. Here’s hoping that she has enough tact to never bring it up.



Before the day is over, Iwaizumi ends up finding out why Oikawa had asked him about detention.

School is as bad as he expected it would be. The only upside is that he doesn’t see Yamashita all day, not that he expected to; Seijoh is a big school, and Iwaizumi had never run into the second-year before their confrontation yesterday, and he never intends to see him again. However, because no one in his class knows who Yamashita is or what he looks like, either, they’re free to exaggerate the actual events into absurdity. He hears the girl in the seat next to him tell her friend that he sent the poor kid to the hospital. He considers correcting her before deciding it’s best to keep his head down and avoid adding fuel to the fire.

Lunch is supposed to be an escape, except that a group of four second and first-year boys somehow figure out that Iwaizumi likes to eat on the roof, and they congregate there, which is as annoying for him as it is for Hanamaki. Iwaizumi has no idea who they are, but he gleans from the way they glare at him with alternating expressions of hostility and awe that they must be Yamashita’s friends, and he ignores them.

After all that, detention is almost a relief, even though he’s given the task of writing Yamashita an apology letter. He thinks it’s ridiculous that he has to act like he feels bad while Yamashita gets off scot-free for running his mouth like that, but it’s fine. He’s fine. At least no one bothers to follow him to the detention classroom, and he’s looking forward to not having to deal with any more disturbances until he goes home. Plus, Takeda isn’t known for being the strictest teacher around, and he’s content to sit at his desk and read his novel while Iwaizumi works.

The silence stretches out for all of fifteen minutes before the door bursts open and someone struts inside without knocking. “Hey, hey, Takeda-sensei!” a voice booms, and Iwaizumi looks up just in time to see Bokuto plant both hands onto the teacher’s desk, leaning over a startled Takeda.

“Bokuto-kun?” Takeda asks mildly, once he’s recovered from his surprise. “What did you need?”

“The new practice balls were supposed to be delivered today, but they’re all missing,” Bokuto says. He sneaks a conspicuous glance over his shoulder to make sure that Iwaizumi is paying attention, which he is.

“Missing?” Takeda asks. “Missing how?”

“Missing, like the crates and packaging are all there, but all the baseballs are gone,” Bokuto says. Iwaizumi recalls that Takeda is the faculty sponsor for the baseball club, and that Bokuto is on the team.

“What?” Takeda frowns, aghast. He slips a bookmark between the pages of his book and stands, and Bokuto ushers him out into the hallway and toward the baseball team’s storage room. At the threshold, Takeda seems to remember that Iwaizumi is supposed to be in detention, and he pauses. “Keep working on your letter, Iwaizumi-kun,” he says, looking behind himself. “I’ll look for another teacher to come take over.”

“Okay,” Iwaizumi says.

Bokuto drags Takeda away, and the last thing Iwaizumi hears is the teacher’s fading admonishments for him to slow down.

Iwaizumi returns his focus to the sheet of paper in front of him, which currently says To Yamashita, and nothing else. He sighs and looks at the door. Then he forces himself to look away. As tempting as it is, he refuses to get up and leave and run the risk of getting into more trouble.

Or, at least, that’s what his resolution is at first. But not five seconds after Bokuto and Takeda have left, another familiar face is prying open the door and stepping inside. Iwaizumi glances up, and then his eyes widen. “Oikawa?”

“In the flesh,” Oikawa sing-songs. “I’m here to end your suffering, Iwa-chan.”

“Don’t tell me what you’re up to,” Iwaizumi says. “If I don’t know, I can’t be an accomplice.”

Oikawa tuts. “Silly Iwa-chan. We already took care of the hard part. All you have to do is come with us.”

“‘We?’” Iwaizumi repeats, lacing the single word with as much skepticism as humanly possible. A suspicion starts to form in the back of his mind.

“Don’t worry about it,” Oikawa says, waving his hand as if dismissing a pesky insect. “C’mon, you’re never going to prove that you’re boyfriend material at this point.”

“I…” Iwaizumi’s retort dies on his tongue. He looks at the paper, which is still blank and will likely remain blank no matter how long he tears his hair out over it. Then he looks at Oikawa, with his hands clasped behind his back and a hopeful gleam in his eye. His shoulders slump in defeat. “Fine.”

Oikawa cheers. “I knew you couldn’t resist my charm!”

“Yeah, whatever.” Iwaizumi shoves his things into his backpack while Oikawa pushes the door open for him. Together, they peer out into the hall to ensure that no one else is around, and then Oikawa grabs Iwaizumi by the shoulders and steers him away.

“I’m going to regret this, aren’t I?” Iwaizumi asks.

“Don’t be such a downer,” Oikawa retorts. “And walk faster, Tetsu-chan is waiting.”

Iwaizumi’s suspicions are confirmed. He should really know better than to get involved with anything this particular trio has planned. For all of Oikawa’s golden boy-next-door image, he has a devious streak a mile wide, and it’s only amplified when he’s with his friends.

Sure enough, they close in on a red Mitsubishi waiting in the parking lot. Bokuto waves at them from the passenger seat, and Iwaizumi can see a telltale head of messy black hair poking out behind him. Biting down on a sigh, he climbs into the back with Oikawa.

“Floor it, Tetsu-chan!” Oikawa calls. Iwaizumi barely manages to get his seatbelt in place before they’re peeling onto the main road, all three of them cackling like they just pulled off a real heist.

“How’d you shake Takeda, Bo?” Kuroo asks.

“He was on the phone with the deliveryman when he saw that the baseballs were actually missing, and I told him I had to use the bathroom.” A proud grin spreads over Bokuto’s face. “I don’t think he even heard.”

“Smooth,” Oikawa says, fond, and he leans forward in his seat to ruffle Bokuto’s hair.

“Put your seatbelt on,” Iwaizumi tells him. Oikawa rolls his eyes but complies.

“I call being the distraction next time,” Kuroo says.

“There’s going to be a next time?” Iwaizumi asks. His voice comes out tinged with incredulity and slight horror.

“Well, you did get two weeks of detention, right?” Oikawa asks, like that answers everything.

“No, Shittykawa. This is a one-time—” He attempts to kick Oikawa’s shins but stops when his foot tangles with some sort of netting. With a sinking feeling in his stomach, he looks down to find his shoelaces stuck in the holes of a mesh bag. A bag that happens to be full to bursting with brand-new baseballs. He puts his face in his hands to the sound of Oikawa’s ringing laughter.

“We’ll put them back!” Oikawa says between laughs. “Eventually.”

“Irihata is going to kill me,” Iwaizumi mumbles into the spaces between his fingers.

Oikawa pats him on the back. “Live a little, Iwa-chan. You don’t have to worry about Irihata until Monday.”

“I hate you,” Iwaizumi says.

“I thought we’d already been over this,” Oikawa says, sounding faintly amused. “No, you don’t.”

“No, I don’t,” Iwaizumi agrees, because even though it’s a joke he doesn’t want to take it too far and cause Oikawa to worry about his feelings for him again.

From up front, Kuroo and Bokuto make twin retching sounds. “Gross,” Bokuto says.

“Are you guys done making out back there?” Kuroo asks. “Don’t make me turn this car around.”

“Jealousy isn’t a good look on you, Tetsu-chan.”

Kuroo scoffs and turns the radio up, smiling when Bokuto starts to sing along, loud and off-key. Oikawa hums along as well, his lilting voice almost inaudible, and something inside Iwaizumi’s chest aches so much he has to cough to clear it away.

Then a thought occurs to him. “Where are we going, anyway?” he asks.

“Oh, right, you don’t know,” Oikawa says.

“It’s karaoke night!” Bokuto lets out a loud whoop.

“It’s tradition,” Kuroo confirms. “One Friday a month.”

“I can’t sing,” Iwaizumi informs all three of them.

“Neither can Bokuto,” Kuroo says. “You’re fine.”

“Hey!” Bokuto says.

“Don’t worry, Bokkun,” Oikawa says. “I like your singing, and my opinion is all that matters.”

He gets a cuff to the back of the head for that, courtesy of Iwaizumi, and Kuroo laughs at him as he sputters in protest.

It feels like no time at all until they pull onto the curb in an unfamiliar part of downtown Sendai. Oikawa and Bokuto hop out to reserve them a room while Kuroo finds a parking spot. Iwaizumi is about to go with them, but the glint in Kuroo’s eyes as he watches Iwaizumi from the rearview mirror convinces him to stay.

“See you, Iwa-chan!” Oikawa chirps as he leaves. “If you don’t do a duet with me tonight, I’m breaking up with you!”

“According to you, we’re not dating yet!” Iwaizumi calls after him. He doesn’t know if his words register.

Bokuto and Oikawa walk inside the karaoke place, a square building with neon kanji in the windows, gesticulating widely and nudging at each other. Then the car is driving away again, and Iwaizumi briefly worries that Kuroo’s going to forego the parking and instead murder him and dump his body somewhere.

“So,” Kuroo says. “You guys made up.”

“Uh, yeah,” Iwaizumi says. “We still need to talk some things out.” He grimaces. Talk about the understatement of the century.

“I think you could be good for him,” Kuroo says, and Iwaizumi hides his surprise. “Jury’s still out, though. I don’t need to remind you what happens if you fuck up again, do I?”

“Nope,” Iwaizumi says. Then: “You know, Oikawa thinks that you’re too protective of him.”

Kuroo lets out a bark of laughter. “Watch yourself, man.” He shakes his head and sighs. “Yeah, he’s smart and capable, but he gives too many second chances sometimes, and he’ll burn himself out trying to please other people. Someone has to be there to stop him.”

Iwaizumi is silent for a moment. “I get it,” he says. “I want to support him, if he’ll let me.”

“Then I guess we’re on the same page,” Kuroo says. He directs one last, lingering glance at Iwaizumi before looking away and focusing on the tricky business of parallel parking. “Are we?”

“We are,” Iwaizumi says. He swallows, and the lump in his throat slides down to his stomach and settles in the pit of it like lead.

“Great.” Kuroo breaks out into an eye-crinkling smile, no trace of his former wariness to be seen, and he puts the car in park. “Let’s go, then. You already got your first song picked out?"

“Uh,” Iwaizumi says, taken aback by the abrupt one-eighty in temperament. “You got any suggestions?”

Both of them climb out of the car, and Kuroo slings an arm around Iwaizumi’s shoulders as they walk. “Where do I begin?” he asks. Iwaizumi gets the impression that if his hands were free, he would be rubbing them together like the evil villain in a spy movie. “Let’s see. How much are you willing to embarrass yourself today?”

What am I getting myself into? Iwaizumi wonders, not for the first time today.



Iwaizumi suffers through several bad K-pop renditions, a few warbling ballads from Bokuto, and one surprisingly in-tune duet from Kuroo and Oikawa. Kuroo sings the girl’s part, complete with exaggerated eyelash-fluttering and crooning, and he catches the rest of them off-guard with the number of high notes he’s able to hit. Then Iwaizumi is dragged onstage to perform Cherry with Oikawa; he tries to argue that it’s not a two-person song, and that he really can’t sing, but to no avail. His self-consciousness fades somewhere around the second verse, and he ends up enjoying himself.

They end the night by piling onto the stage, too small to fit four young men dancing and jumping around, and shouting the lyrics to the One Piece opening theme at the top of their lungs.

Iwaizumi is bone-tired by the time he trudges up his front steps and into his house, but in a pleasant way. His blood is still thrumming from the exhilaration of the last song, and he mutters a tired tadaima as he enters.

“Oh, Hajime, welcome back,” his mom greets from the kitchen, where she’s busy washing the dishes. “Did you have fun? Did you have dinner already?”

“Yeah, thanks,” Iwaizumi says, pulling off his shoes and lining them up in the genkan . “And I’ll heat up some leftovers later. Don’t worry about me.”

Luckily his mom has never been the type to pry, so she leaves it at that. “One of your friends swung around earlier,” she mentions just as Iwaizumi is about to climb up the stairs and go to his room. He stops with one hand on the banister, frowning. “I told him he could wait in your room.”

Friend? Iwaizumi isn’t expecting company today, is he? He takes the stairs two at a time and finds the door to his bedroom ajar. When he inches it open and peeks inside, he spots Hanamaki spinning around in circles in his desk chair.

“Hanamaki?” Iwaizumi asks, closing the door behind him.

“Iwaizumi,” Hanamaki returns evenly. He glances at Iwaizumi out of the corner of his eye and rotates to face him. “Good, you’re back.”

“What are you doing here?” Iwaizumi asks. He feels awkward lingering right in front of the door of his own room and goes to sit on the bed.

“We were going to have a movie night today, remember?” Hanamaki asks. He keeps his voice breezy, but it must have been bothering him if he decided to come all this way to talk to Iwaizumi about it in person.

Guilt lances through Iwaizumi. “God, Makki, I’m so sorry, I totally—”

“You were out with your new boy toy, I get it.” Hanamaki rolls his eyes a little, waving a hand in the air as if to brush the apology away. “I’m not that mad. I had dinner with your mom instead, and she’s way cooler than you.”

“Uh huh,” Iwaizumi says. He can’t really dispute that. “So you’re still here why?”

Hanamaki winces. “Ouch. I can tell when I’m not wanted.” Iwaizumi shoots him an unimpressed stare, and he sighs. “Fine. Honestly, I’m worried that you’re falling in too deep. I mean, missing movie night? That’s not like you. Were you not listening to anything I said about how you should fess up to Oikawa?”

“Hanamaki, I…”

“And don’t give me any of that ‘it’s not your business’ crap.” Hanamaki cuts him off. “It’s my business as your friend because I don’t want to see you mess things up so badly you can’t fix them anymore, and it’s my business as a decent human being because Oikawa doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.”

“I know,” Iwaizumi says. It’s getting too hard to look Hanamaki in the eye while they talk, so he lets himself fall back onto the bed to study the ceiling cracks instead. “I know. But telling him would ruin everything. And it’s not like I’m still doing this for Kageyama, even. I like him a lot, you know?”

He hears a heavy sigh. “So what are you going to do if Kageyama or Hinata or someone accidentally spills the beans? Or even if that never happens, what are you going to do if you keep dating, and a couple years down the line Oikawa asks you why you decided to ask him out? Would you keep up with the lie? I’m just saying, man, you’re digging yourself a hole here.”

Every word cuts deeper because Iwaizumi hears the truth in it. All of a sudden, the happy moments he and Oikawa shared all day turn bitter, clouded with the haze of deceit. He swallows, hard, and his voice is subdued when he speaks. “I’ll tell him.”

There’s a physical unwinding of the room, a release of tension. From halfway across the room, Iwaizumi can feel Hanamaki’s shoulders uncoil. “Good,” he says.

“Yeah.” Iwaizumi hums noncommittally. There’s a sour taste in his mouth.

“I’m serious, though,” Hanamaki says. “You can’t keep doing this. If you don’t tell him the truth by next week, I’m telling him myself.”

Iwaizumi closes his eyes. He envisions a timer in blazing red numbers, ticking down. A time bomb. “Okay,” he breathes.

“Okay,” Hanamaki parrots. Then there’s the sound of socked feet sliding across the carpet, then the door creaking open, and then the faint voice of Iwaizumi’s mom as she tells Hanamaki goodbye. She sounds surprised, probably at the fact that he’s leaving so soon after Iwaizumi’s return.

“Fuck,” Iwaizumi hisses. He presses the heels of his palms into his eyes until he sees red. “Fuck.”